U.N. Clears China Sea-Floor Plan

Posted: 07/28/2011 in all marine news

By Jeremy Page – 

As China’s first manned deep-sea craft prepared for a landmark dive to 5,000 meters, or 16,400 feet, that surpasses current U.S. capabilities, a United Nations body approved Beijing’s plan to explore a swath of ocean floor between Africa and Antarctica for metal deposits.

In the first of four planned dives, the Jiaolong submersible reached 4,027 meters at 5:26 a.m. Thursday, Beijing time, according to China’s State Oceanic Administration. State media said it had been due to make another attempt at 5,000 meters early Friday, but the dive was postponed because of high seas that were expected to last three days.

The Jiaolong is diving at a site between Hawaii and the North America mainland, where China was granted rights to explore for minerals in 2001 by the International Seabed Authority, a U.N. body that oversees mining in international waters.

ISA, meeting at its headquarters in Jamaica, said it had approved on Tuesday applications from China and Russia—the first from any countries—to explore relatively newly discovered deposits called polymetallic sulphides that form around volcanic vents in ridges on the seabed.

ISA also approved applications from private companies sponsored by members states—the Pacific islands of Tonga and Nauru—to explore seabed mineral deposits in international waters. That was a first; it had previously accepted applications only from states and state entities.

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